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Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler pioneered a new style of abstract expressionist painting that earned her the respect of the art world and inspired other artists like de Kooning in new directions. Frankenthaler trained with a number of different artists through high school and college before she turned to abstract expressionism and began creating a series of paintings including her revolutionary Mountains and Sea just before her twenty-fourth birthday. In these paintings, she combined the drip techniques of Jackson Pollack with her own innovation of thinning oil paints until they soaked into the canvas like watercolors, creating breathtaking, disembodied color fields. The painter Morris Louis later said of her soak-stain technique, “She was a bridge between Pollack and what was possible.” Frankenthaler’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, from her first solo exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1951 to retrospectives at the Jewish Museum in New York, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, and MOMA.

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Helen Frankenthaler, 1956
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Helen Frankenthaler in 1956.
Courtesy of Gordon Parks/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.
Date of Birth
December 12, 1928
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
December 27, 2011
Occupations

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen Frankenthaler." (Viewed on December 15, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/frankenthaler-helen>.

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